Background on the Core Algorithm Update
Google began rolling out its first core algorithm update of 2019 (the aptly named “March 2019 Core Update”) on March 12th. One day later, Google confirmed the update, but provided few details around the update and what search verticals would be the most impacted or what site attributes were rewarded/punished. That hasn’t stopped marketers, however, from sifting through the data and looking for patterns. While it’s been a little over a month since the update was rolled out, it will take more time (and data) to get a complete understanding of how this update altered the search landscape. There are, however, a few early patterns in the data to monitor moving forward.
The Update Seems To Have Impacted Websites and Queries Related To Highly Important ‘Your Money, Your Life’ Topics
Similar to the algorithm updates of August 2018 and October 2018, this core algorithm update appears to have more deeply impacted sites that deal with sensitive essential topics like finance, healthcare, and education. Some of the winners in these verticals from the August and October updates have experienced a rollback in their visibility. This is likely Google adjusting its results based on the engagement data it has gathered between now and August.
The Update Seems To Favor Sites With Strong Engagement Metrics
On a related note, this most recent algorithm update appears to favor websites with stronger engagement metrics, validating the idea that this update was made based on the data Google gathered from its initial algorithm updates in August and October. While the idea that your site is better off when it has strong engagement from its visitors isn’t some new, earth shattering revelation, it does drive home the larger idea that relevant content is key.
Google uses engagement metrics like bounce rate, pages per visit, and time on site to determine whether your content is meeting the needs of searchers. If your content is thin or doesn’t answer the key questions related to a query, you are much more likely to see high bounce rates and lower time on site numbers. This signals to Google that this content is irrelevant or of low value (at least for that subset of queries), and they will likely find another result that better meets the needs of searchers.
This Update Seems To Have Favored Sites With Strong Branding & Trust
Because the update more directly impacted queries related to serious YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) topics like healthcare, it will also likely favor sites with strong branding and trust metrics – also known as sites that Google recognizes as trustworthy experts on sensitive topics. This means larger brands and high trust websites with a broad base of quality, informational content could feel the most impact from this update.
What the Algorithm Update Means For Marketers
Google’s direction to marketers is the same it has been after all algorithm updates – create high-quality content that provides value to users. While this direction may seem vague, Google’s continued emphasis on relevant content that combines EAT – Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness – should serve as a reminder that their goal behind the algorithm updates is to provide users with the most relevant, useful, up to date content, possible.
There isn’t a simple, quick, magical formula to follow that will position brands to benefit (or at least not be harmed) by these algorithm updates. Instead, preparing for algorithm shifts is an ongoing process tied directly to continuous maintenance and upkeep of your site – especially its content. To maximize visibility, webmasters should continue to build brand equity and create relevant, user-focused content, that provides real value to their visitors.
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